Choosing A Profession

By Mary Lamb 1764–1847 Mary Lamb
A Creole boy from the West Indies brought,
To be in European learning taught,
Some years before to Westminster he went,
To a Preparatory school was sent.
When from his artless tale the mistress found
The child had not one friend on English ground,
She ev’n as if she his own mother were,
Made the dark Indian her particular care.
Oft on her favourite’s future lot she thought;
To know the bent of his young mind she sought,
For much the kind preceptress wished to find
To what profession he was most inclined,
That where his genius led they might him train;
For nature’s kindly bent she held not vain.
But vain her efforts to explore his will;
The frequent question he evaded still;
Till on a day at length he to her came,
Joy sparkling in his eyes; and said, the same
Trade he would be those boys of colour were,
Who danced so happy in the open air.
It was a troop of chimney-sweeping boys,
With wooden music and obstreperous noise,
In tarnish’d finery and grotesque array,
Were dancing in the streets the first of May.

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Poet Mary Lamb 1764–1847

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects School & Learning, Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Race & Ethnicity, Activities

Biography

British Poet and anthologist Mary Lamb worked as a seamstress for 10 years to support her ailing family. She suffered from bipolar disorder and, during an episode in 1796, killed her mother with a kitchen knife. Her younger brother Charles, a poet and essayist who worked for the East India Company, agreed to serve as Mary’s caretaker rather than consign her to lifelong institutionalization. They lived together for nearly 40 . . .

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Poems by Mary Lamb

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT School & Learning, Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Race & Ethnicity, Activities

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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